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Post-qualifying press conference - Italy 11 Sep 2004

(L to R): Juan Pablo Montoya (COL) Williams, Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Ferrari and Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari in the press conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Italian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monza, Italy, 11 September 2004

Reproduced with kind permission of the FIA

Drivers: 1st Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari), 1m 20.089s; 2nd Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams), 1m 20.620s; 3rd Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 1m 20.637s.

Q: You are on pole having recorded the fastest ever lap in the history of Formula One at just over 260km/h, what a fantastic lap, particularly that last sector, too.
Rubens Barrichello:
You know, I’m so happy with the whole thing because the car was really good and I was able to take every little bit out the car. Especially, I am happier with the Lesmos, the Lesmo one and Lesmo two, than with the final part of my lap and it has been really good. The whole weekend the car has been showing good potential so I’m here and I’m thrilled.

Q: Was it a perfect lap from your point of view?
RB:
I think it was. I mean, perfect, we are never going to be perfect, but it was very close to the limit. Monza is all about getting it right more than getting to the limit because sometimes you just make a mistake in turn one and you give away just half a second there. But I think I have been very close to the limit in every point on the circuit, especially on those two Lesmos, like I said, and I was excited inside the car to be honest.

Q: And a good build-up this morning to be quickest then as well.
RB:
Yeah, we have a good car, good tyres, a good engine, everything is really good. We just have to see what the weather is going to do tomorrow, just be calm and try to play it with our cars.

Q: Juan Pablo, nice to have you back on the front row of the grid. It’s been a while.
Juan Pablo Montoya:
Yeah, it’s been a while actually, and the team has done a really good job. What can I say? It was good. The first qualifying I went really fast. We knew Ferrari could go a lot faster than what they did and they did, you know. I made too many mistakes but even if it had been a perfect lap I think they would have been a little bit faster. It’s good to be on the front row, it’s good for the team, and we need the points.

Q: You have got a lot of racing laps at Monza, very close to Ferraris, both Rubens and Michael, what are your thoughts on the race tomorrow?
JPM:
Well, I don’t know. It’s going to be an interesting race, I think. Looking at the race pace I think it is going to be quite close. I think they might be a little bit stronger but we’ll see where they are on strategy and everything. It’s nice, you know. My worst qualifying here has been P2 over the last four years so I can’t complain.

Q: And the car is mechanically very sound now?
JPM:
Yeah, I think so. Everything went really well.

Q: Michael, your lap looked pretty good for a while there. Can you talk us through it?
Michael Schumacher:
Yeah, it started off very good, the first sector was always a bit of a struggle but I got that right and then in the last corner I lost a little bit of time. Anyway, I think there is not too much to complain about to be third with that sort of situation. I am quite happy with it, didn’t expect it honestly. Rubens just did a perfect lap and there was nothing I could do against that.

Q: Why do you say you didn’t expect that, do you say that in reference to the pre-qualifying times?
MS:
Well, because I lost quite a bit of lap time and obviously I wasn’t expecting to be so far off Rubens’ time that I would stay where I am so I am reasonably happy.

Q: How does this weekend feel to you? It must be a wonderful experience to come here as the new world champion - obviously you are going to be appointed at the end of the year but mathematically the world champion and to be here in front of Ferrari’s home crowd.
MS:
Yeah, certainly after winning both championships coming here and Rubens securing pole position and me being third, so we are pretty close to each other, having a good chance tomorrow in the race to transform this into a good result so we obviously feel very happy and hopefully we can put the dot on the I and finish it off in style and make our tifosi happy, which supported us for all the years whenever it was difficult. Now, with celebration, it would be the perfect result if we could give it to them.

Q: And you have that little tricolore, the Italian flag, on the side of your helmet.
MS:
Well, it’s a way of saying thank you to everybody, to our engineers, mechanics, tifosi, because I have a lot of support, I have a lot of things I got from all of them and that’s my way of saying thank you.

Q: Rubens, Ferrari actually haven’t won three races in a row at Monza. It could happen tomorrow of course.
RB:
I am actually one of the lucky ones because I won the 2002 Grand Prix and I like Monza, I like the support from the crowd, I think it’s something that in the past seemed to bother me, now it just gives me power and I feel good. So I am thankful to them and to our engineers, to the whole Ferrari group. We are here and just planning a victory tomorrow. If it happens depends pretty much on what we do tomorrow but we are quite confident.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: Rubens, your eleventh pole position and here at Monza, what’s the feeling like?
RB:
It’s just unbelievable, it’s just a great feeling. I think it’s like I said before - a long time ago it used to bother me, just racing in our home country, just used to do something that wasn’t good. There was a lot of pressure and just not good. Now it’s just a good feeling for me, I’m really proud to have turned the bad things away from me and it’s just the support from them, just to be at our place where we go quite well. We did a good job with Bridgestone for the car to become quite fast, so it’s just phenomenal.

Q: The second sector seemed to make the difference, getting the Lesmos right was important.
RB:
It was very important because the exit of the Lesmo 2 you have all the straight up to Ascari so it’s all about getting the power right at the right time and I think I never did it so much as I did on that lap. So it’s been a phenomenal achievement for me in terms of getting all the bits of the racing track right, even the Ascari, the Ascari is just a difficult corner to get it right because of the low downforce, so really good, really pleased.

Q: And over the kerbs the car looks quite good too.
RB:
I think the cars normally look good in terms of… You’re talking new tyres. We need to see tomorrow who is looking good over the kerbs with the older tyres just because I think that is really where a good car shows and I think we are reasonably happy with the package overall, we’re quite quick over the race distance so I have reasons to be quite confident.

Q: Juan Pablo, so quick in pre-qualifying, are you disappointed not to be on pole?
JPM:
Not really, you know. We knew Ferrari were sandbagging a little bit in the first one and in the second I pushed pretty hard. I made a mistake in braking for the second chicane and into Ascari a little bit. It would have probably been three tenths faster or something but I don’t think we would have been able to match Rubens.

Q: You seemed to have got some of the time back in the final sector.
JPM:
Yeah, in the final sector the car is really good. It’s been really good all the time. But it wasn’t fast enough, was it?

Q: As you said earlier on, you’ve got fantastic form here. What are the chances for tomorrow?
JPM:
I think it’s pretty good. Our long runs look strong. Ferrari’s, of course, are always pretty strong but I think if we get off the line well it could be quite an interesting race.

Q: Michael, Juan Pablo just said the Ferraris were sandbagging. Do you feel they were sandbagging?
MS:
I don’t think it’s important. What’s important is what we have seen in qualifying and what we will see in tomorrow’s race.

Q: I was talking about Rubens’s car over the kerbs. I have to say that from the outside, this morning, your car didn’t look particularly good over the kerbs. Were you happy with it?
MS:
Put it this way, I was struggling a little bit more to find the right balance and set-up. We found a little problem this morning which we solved. We may not, from that time on, have had the possibility to optimise the set-up but nevertheless I made something in the last corner which was my own fault, nothing to do with the set-up, and that cost me quite a lot of time but not enough to fight for the pole position, honestly. But it’s a tight matter. We are very close together here. Anyway, it’s still looking very good for the race tomorrow, being in the position we are so that’s all that counts.